Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Review: Mozart and Elgar

Review: Mozart and Elgar

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, October 29

Reviewer: Max Rashbrooke

In previous NZSO concerts this year I’ve felt the orchestra’s playing, under new music director Edo de Waart, has been slightly on the conservative side. But this was an evening where the musical judgements felt spot on. Mozart’s piano concerto no. 24 in C minor is a delicate, introspective work that requires a really mature performance to bring out its subtleties, and that was what it got.

According to the programme, the evening’s soloist, Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam, is a specialist in playing on older, lighter pianos (fortepianos, in technical terms), and you could hear that in his playing, which was sensitive and intelligent. It was also finely balanced, as is required for a work that belies its minor key nature to sound at times serene and gracious – finding the joy in sadness, as it were. Brautigam’s rapport with the orchestra was superb, and apart from the occasional unconvincing moment in the cadenza, had just the right combination of strength and grace.

The second half work, Elgar’s First Symphony, was in many ways a complete contrast to the Mozart, being altogether grander and written for a much larger orchestra. What united the two was a brisk conductorial approach from de Waart, providing just the right amount of forward impetus without rushing the music.

It was playing with fuel still left in the tank, as it were, which is exactly what both Mozart and Elgar respond to – especially the latter, where the orchestra captured that very British sense of restrained rapture. The playing was grand without being overbearing, and de Waart’s careful conducting brought out the huge range of textures that Elgar offers, the brass section in particular sounding superb. There was also an absolutely convincing sense of structure and clarity about the performance, as the great surges of emotion segued naturally into the most beautiful moments of repose and tranquillity.

De Waart said in his programme notes that after a performance of the First Symphony you leave “feeling better than when you came in”; my own take is that it’s music that – despite the torment it expresses at times – makes you feel as if everything will ultimately be all right. And it was with that kind of serene confidence that this audience member, at least, left the hall on Saturday night, after one of the most satisfying performances of the year so far.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Kīngitanga: 160 Years Of Māori Monarchy

New Zealand’s Māori king, Te Arikinui Kiingi Tūheitia, recently celebrated 160 years since the installation of the first Māori monarch, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, at Ngāruawāhia on the Waikato River in 1858. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Kavanaugh Case And Women’s Suffrage

On suffrage day when – reportedly – we celebrate women winning a political voice, and ensuring that their voices are heard, respected, and acted upon, despite all the attempts to ignore and silence them. More>>

Gordon Campbell: Are Only Old People Likely To Vote For Simon Bridges?

Around the world, young people seem to be gravitating to left wing policies and parties, leaving the old to prop up the conservative parties... the size of the gap suggests there’s more involved to this evolution than the usual clichés about the young being idealistic and the old being more realistic. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Fuss Over The PM’s Pacific Forum Trip

Truly, the abuse being levelled at PM Jacinda Ardern for doing her job at the Pacific Islands Forum shows just how much – and on how many levels – Ardern seems to enrage a goodly number of citizens. More>>